Rick Nash vs Joe Pavelski: By the Numbers

Even with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter (arguably better players) both signing with the Minnesota Wild, this offseason continues to be dominated by Rick Nash trade rumors.

Will Nash end up with the New York Rangers because Marian Gaborik won’t be ready till midseason? Or how about the Philadelphia Flyers who could use a positive splash after the whole Richards/Carter/Bryzgalov fiasco?

And then there are two of the funnier story-lines in this whole Nash saga.

Columbus GM Scott Howson inquired to the Carolina Hurricanes about Jeff Skinner and the San Jose Sharks about Logan Couture in return for Nash.

Remember just two seasons ago Skinner and Couture were finalists for the Calder Trophy (with Skinner winning) and each player is a cornerstone of their respective organizations.

Each player has far more ahead of them in this league than Nash, both are natural centers with big time scoring ability.

Any team trading for Nash is only looking to acquire him if it CLEARLY makes their current NHL roster better.

Howson has to be aware of this, and sticking to a wish list of Couture or Skinner is simply absurd. Both Sharks GM Doug Wilson and Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford have basically scoffed at the notion of being asked to part ways with their star centers.

Is Nash a more established dynamic scorer than these two? Certainly, and you could make the argument that straight up Nash would make both Carolina and San Jose better in offensive production this next season. But then you are forgetting the $7.8 million you have to pay him compared to $2.85 for Couture and Skinner at $1.4.

And the discussion of cap-hit leads directly into the discussion to why it would be a mistake for San Jose to part ways with Joe Pavelski straight up for Rick Nash. The $4.0M cap hit for Pavelski versus $7.8 for Nash is the tipping point to make this hypothetical deal a bad one for the Sharks.

But then again, even if the cap hits were equal, just how much more valuable is Nash over Pavelski? Let’s look at the last few seasons and compare the numbers side by side.

2008-09

Pavelski: 25g, 34a, 59p, 266s, 74 Bks, 717 FOW, 56.3 FO%, 18:57 TOI
Nash:      40g, 39a, 79p, 263s, 29 Bks,     5 FOW, 27.8 FO%, 21:09 TOI

2009-10

Pavelski: 25g, 26a, 51p, 228s, 60 Bks, 477 FOW, 58.1 FO%, 19:28 TOI
Nash:      33g, 34a, 67p, 254 s, 25 Bks,  11 FOW, 50 FO%,  20:56 TOI

2010-11

Pavelski: 20g, 46a, 66p, 282s, 67 Bks, 554 FOW, 54.3 FO%, 19:39 TOI
Nash:      32g, 34a, 66p, 305s, 19 Bks,     7 FOW, 29.2 FO%, 18:55 TOI
2011-12

Pavelski: 31g, 30a, 61p, 269s, 84 Bks, 507 FOW, 58.7 FO%, 20:36 TOI
Nash:      30g, 29a, 59p, 306s, 21 Bks,     6 FOW, 31.6 FO%,  19:05 TOI

Again, there is no denying the extreme skill level that Nash brings to the table, he is a dynamite goal scorer with tricks up his sleeve that even he probably doesn’t remember being a part of his arsenal.

But the overall offensive output from these two is rather similar. The Blue Jackets forward is clearly the more natural goal scorer but Nash has yet to make players around him that much better.

Pavelski on the other hand is a player who can play the role of distributor and goal scorer, he can dominate in the face-off circle, dominate in the defensive zone and penalty kill and play the point on the power-play. He is arguably one of the top-10 most versatile top-6 talented forwards in the entire league.

In each of the last four years Pavelski has seen his ice time increase (career high 20:36 last season) where Nash’s ice time has fallen from 21 minutes down to 19 minutes.

There is a reason why you will hear some Sharks fans like those of the Dudesonhockey podcast argue Pavelski is worth more than Nash and not the other way around.

Goal scorers get drafted high in the draft each season and while 30 goal scorers don’t grow on trees, neither do versatile, faceoff dominant, cheap top-6 forwards from the seventh round of the draft.

Of course there are those out there who will claim that since Nash has played on a bad team his whole career that his numbers can’t be compared. They will say that Nash’s 60-70 points on Columbus would translate to 75-90 on a team like San Jose.

And while there is logic behind such thoughts one might want to temper their expectations. It is not as if Nash was playing alongside Jody Shelley and Cam Janssen. During the 2009-10 season when Nash scored 67 points, center Antoine Vermette had 65 points himself, only five fewer than Joe Thornton’s 70 points in 2010-11.

No, Vermette is not Joe Thornton, but food for thought before you expect 50 goals out of Nash alongside Thornton, who has given up offensive numbers for a stronger overall game the past two seasons.

While it may seem like a Nash-Thornton duo is a match made in heaven, giving up Pavelski to make it happen doesn’t make San Jose better.

Even if you wanted to claim that the deal would be a wash in terms of on ice contributions, and that San Jose needs a shake-up in the roster, you still have to go back to the cap hit.

Pavelski is essentially paid half of what Nash is being paid.

It’s no contest on who is the more valuable player.

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